7 ways to keep your newsletters out of spam:
1. Authenticate your domainI’m putting the hardest one first, because it’s the one many people skip. They skip it because it’s technical, and a bit scary sounding if you’re not technically-inclined. But it’s also one of the most important things you can do to stop your emails from going to spam. When you send newsletters from an email marketing service, like Mailchimp, the return address looks like it’s coming from your email address. But it’s not really. And gmail, yahoo, and other servers know it. So to make receiving email servers recognize that you’re the authentic owner of the sending email address, you have to authenticate the email’s domain.
Authentication allows the receiving email server (like gmail, or a company’s private server) to confirm that the sender is authentic, not a ‘bot or sneaky 3rd-party spammer.
Solution: Authenticate your domain yourself, or have someone do it for you.You can do this yourself. Each email marketing service will have instructions. NOTE you must both VERIFY and AUTHENTICATE your domain. This video below shows how it’s done in Mailchimp, but all email marketing services will have similar steps. It sounds more complicated than it is. Just follow step by step. If you’re not a do-it-yourself techie, then contact your email marketing company or web host company and they’ll probably take care of it for you. But don’t skip this step. It’s that important.
2. Clean your list to stop emails from going to spam
If you have a “dirty” email list, it means a lot of your email addresses are being rejected. That’s called bouncing. Addresses bounce for a lot of reasons (almost everything in this article can cause bouncing), but having a dirty list is one of the most common reasons, and easiest to solve. Lists can be dirty because: 1) the email account is no longer in use, 2) the email has previously unsubscribed, 3) unspecified reasons, 4) incorrect configuration.
Bouncing due to a dirty list is usually only a problem if you’ve just imported a new list of email addresses, and you don’t know which are good or bad yet. However, don’t test your list by sending email to it, just to see who bounces. Because if you do, and you get a lot of bounces, then ALL of your emails will start automatically going to spam, even the good ones. Your entire list will be painted with the same brush.
It’s even worse than that: The most common email marketing platforms, like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Aweber, etc, use shared IP addresses. What one marketer does can affect other marketers who share the same IP address. In other words, if you have a “bad” list, it not only affects you, it also affects everyone else on that IP. Your email marketing service will likely ban your account.
Solution: Use an online service to clean your list (it’s cheap!)
Fortunately, cleaning a list isn’t hard to do. There are services, like neverbounce.com where you can have your list analyzed for free, and then cleaned for very low cost. Also, I don’t suggest ever buying a 3rd party list from someone else. Chances are many of the emails are “bad.” It’s always a good idea to gather your own email addresses, and if possible, to get the first name of your subscribers.
3. Avoid spammy-sounding subject lines
It isn’t always obvious what the spam police will consider “spammy” sounding. As a fitness instructor, you might naturally use a subject line like, “ACT FAST to save $ on our 2-for-1 offer.” That would get my attention. But it would also get the attention of the spam police with your use of “ACT NOW” in all CAPS, plus the use of the $ sign. These are red flags on most lists of words and practices to avoid.
The spam police are not people, of course. They’re ever-changing algorithms within the different email servers (GMAIL, HOTMAIL, OUTLOOK, etc. as well as private email servers) that decide what’s in and what’s out.
At FitNewsletters we provide a pre-tested subject line for your emails, so you don’t have to look it up. Saves you time and let’s you get back to what you do best…help people get healthy, fit, and strong!
Solution: Avoid spam jail time by using smart subject lines.
There are three ways to clean up your subject lines:
- Run your subject line through a free subject line testing tool, like the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Headline Tester, or omnisend.com. You can find others by Googling “subject line tester.” The results are only guidelines, but it’s a place to start.
- Use common language and punctuation that make people curious without being sensational. For instance, use This will be the top workout for 2021, not OMG You Won’t Be Able to Live without this AMAZING workout!!!
- Don’t use hot-button words in the subject. So instead of using Take action on an affordable investment in your health (which is highly likely to go to spam due to the words affordable investment), you could use Personal training that fits your budget (which is much more likely to go into the primary inbox). It takes a little thought to reword language, but it will make a difference in the inbox.
For a list of hot button words, see this post from simplycast.
4. Use newsletters with clean HTML
If your HTML (the code underlying your email) is broken, then email services will reject the email. To ensure the HTML code is correct, use email templates from approved sources, such as Mailchimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, etc.
If you copy and paste content from the internet, make sure to strip the underlying code. When you paste text into your email, you’re also pasting the underlying code from the source. You need to strip that underlying HTML, so it gets reformatted into the email template’s HTML.
Solution: Strip the underlying HTML code.
There are three ways to do this. First, you can open notepad on your PC. Paste your text into that, and it will remove all formatting. Then you can copy and paste that text into your email and reformat it.
Second, you can use the email template’s “clear styles” button. Paste your text directly into your email template, then highlight it all and click the clear styles button (it may be called something else in different email marketing services).
Third, the email marketing service might provide a special box where you paste your outside text, and it will strip the code for you.
5. Use correct image-insert practices — yes, this really can help stop your emails from going to spam!
If you’re using the image boxes provided by your email template service, then your images will correctly resize across different platforms. (This is called “responsive.”) However, if you don’t use an image box, and instead simply insert an image next to your text (as if it’s part of the text), the image won’t resize automatically. This may cause your email to be rejected…so using correct image insert options is another tool to stop your email from going to spam.
Here’s an example:
- The first example shows an image that was inserted as part of the text of an article. The image doesn’t resize automatically and stretches out the entire email (see the black buttons are off to the left).
- The second shows the image inserted correctly using an IMAGE BLOCK, so it resizes automatically to fit the screen.
Solution: Use image boxes and resize images.
If you’re using an email marketing service template, then insert your images using their given image block options. See the Mailchimp video below for example:
6. Personalize your newsletters using First NameThere are a lot of ways to personalize your newsletters. But in this case, I’m talking about the kind of personalization that helps stop your email from going to spam, not the kind of personalization where you’re sending targeted email to sub-groups in your list. In this case all you need is the first name of your subscriber. You can use a Merge Tag to add their name at the top of your email, or as part of the subject line. Email services like that, because it makes them think you know this person. It also helps with your open rates (which ultimately helps with your delivery rates), because people are more likely to open a marketing email that has their name at the top.
Solution: Add the first name of your subscribers using a Merge TagWhen you add someone to your mailing list, try to get their first name, too. Then when you create your template, use a merge tag to insert their name. A merge tag looks something like this: Hi, *|FNAME|*. When you send your newsletters, each subscriber’s first name will be attached to the email, like this: Hi, John. If you didn’t add a first name when they signed up, then you can code the default to say something like Hi, Friends.
If you’re using our FitNewsletters, we already add a *|FNAME|* code to your newsletters. But if you don’t have a first name, then our code defaults to “Hi, Friends.”
7. Set expectations at signup to stop emails from going to spamWhen you sign clients up for your email newsletter, chances are it’s a “throw away” comment, where you say something like, “Hey, George. Do you mind if I add you to my newsletter subscription list?” Or even more likely, you just add your leads and clients to your newsletter list, without asking. After all, they’re already working with you, so the newsletter is just one more thing, right? The problem is that when people don’t expect something, they don’t value it. If you want them to value your newsletters, and therefore open them, you have to position them as something valuable at sign up.
Solution: Set expectations and ask for their help.This is one solution that everyone can easily implement more effectively. When you sign clients up for your newsletter, tell them what to expect. Talk up the value. Ask them to look for the newsletter in their inbox, or spam/promotions folder. Tell them they can be a big help to you just by finding and opening the newsletter, and letting you know if they see anything of value. Your efforts will help stop emails from going to spam, because they’ll have a higher open rate. The more your emails are opened, the more likely they will be delivered. Think of it as training the email service to perceive your emails as more valuable. (Because they are more valuable!)
Your next fitness newsletters step…
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